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Proformat News
No: 55
September 2010
September Seminars
4: Genealogy on the Web Hub Library 12:30 to 2:30pm
: Climbing the genealogy barriers State Library for the Flinders University 9:00am to 4:00pm

October Seminars
: Identifying and dating 19th century photos WEA Centre Adelaide
7:00 to 10:00pm
: Using South Australian resources in family history Payneham Library 6:30 to 9:30pm
: Introduction to FH research (over 7 weeks with sessions of 1.5 hrs each) WEA Centre Adelaide 8:00 to 9:30pm
: Tracing your Scottish ancestors Mt Barker Community Library 1:30 to 4:30pm

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

2011 Australian Census
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released an Information Paper outlining the Proposed 2011 Census. The primary purpose of this paper is to signal the start of a consultation process on the 2011 Census and to invite comments from Census data users. They welcome comments and feedback.

Adoptions in South Australia
Adoption, in the legal sense of the term, is a relatively modern development, having been introduced into South Australia in 1925 in the form of the Adoption of Children Act. The model for this Act in South Australia and elsewhere in the then British Empire owes its origins to the 1895 New Zealand Act.

Technically, the process of adoption allows natural parents to surrender all their legal rights and responsibilities over a child to other persons to the extent that the child, as far as the law is concerned, is considered to have been the natural issue of the adoptive parents.

In this issue:
September seminars
October seminars
2011 Australian Census

Feature article
Adoptions in South Australia


Graham Jaunay
Adelaide Proformat

Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465

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All similar activities prior to the introduction of the legislation should be termed fostering rather than adoption. As far as the law is concerned all previous arrangements of fostering never broke the original rights of the natural parents and should be considered as merely private arrangements. Although prior to 1925 there was the opportunity for the State to legally remove children from the custody of their parents due to neglect or the potential for neglect to occur as would be the case if parents fell on hard times or became involved in illegal behaviour.

Initially it was considered that adoption was private and confidential and neither party knew of each other and a new birth certificate was created in the names of the adoptive parents. Legislation was introduced in 1989 that changed the rules regarding adoptive children accessing information about their natural parents. Adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents and certain relatives are legally entitled to get adoption information once the adopted person turns 18 years of age. If you were involved in a South Australian adoption, you can apply for or restrict your adoption information. You can place a five year restriction or veto, on identifying information being given to other involved parties if your adoption took place before 17 August 1989.

A significant number of children found themselves in institutions in the period between being removed from their parents and being adopted. These facilities also looked after children who were Wards of the State who were not adopted for a range of reasons. Details about these facilities can be found in Finding Your Own Way, a guide to tracing family and existing records of South Australian children's homes and institutions up to December 2004.

State boundaries are no barriers to the adoption process, although the matter is a state government responsibility, under the umbrella of the federal Family Law Act 1975. There is no central register of adoptions. All states/territories have legislation that grants certain information rights to adopted people and to their adoptive and birth families.
Key legislation involved is:
     Australian Capital Territory - Adoption Act 1993
     New South Wales - Adoption Act 2000
     Northern Territory - Adoption of Children Act
     Queensland - Adoption of Children Act 1964
     South Australia - Adoption Act 1988
     Tasmania - Adoption Act 1988
     Victoria - Adoption Act 1984
     Western Australia - Adoption Act 1994

Effectively if you come across an adopted person in your family history research, the only person who can access that information is the person themselves, or their parents, both natural and adoptive.

When it comes to pre-1925 material, the situation differs as effectively the process is one of fostering.

When the SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society was given the opportunity to film all the District Duplicate certificates in the early 1990s, the filming of birth certificates included a few of children, that, after the implementation of the 1925 Act, were adopted. When this was later realised, officers from the BDM Registry physically removed these from the collection. Thus the original birth certificate of any child adopted under the Act is unavailable to the general public and the provisions are that it will never be available.

The State Childrens Council was established in 1886 to manage the boarding-out of children as fostering was termed in the establishing Act and this also embraced the management of the government institutions for children, the reformatories and industrial schools. At this time the so-called Magill Industrial School accommodated children waiting for a foster placement and those in state-sponsored apprenticeships. Delinquent girls were also housed in the same establishment while delinquent boys were on the hulk, Fitzjames, anchored off Largs Bay.

Advertiser 12 Feb 1902 p7d

The boarding-out system had a number of aspects with respect to children taken into State care:
  • handing over children to respectable families with no children as their wards.
  • boarding-out of children under 13 to approved homes at a weekly subsidy.
  • organising children into apprenticeships.
  • managing the employment of children over the age of 13.
  • overseeing the behaviour and circumstances of those children returned to their own homes.

  • The records generated by these activities are in the custody of State records of South Australia and are held in the following series:
  • GRG 27 State Childrens Department
  • GRG 28 Destitute Persons Department
  • GRG 29 Social Welfare Department

  • The reader should read Newsletter 37 whose subject is Orphans in South Australia to get a balanced picture and also a full list of records available in the above three series.
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